Road Atlanta is a place like no other, from the elevation changes that make you feel like your on a roller coaster and the blind corners that bring that little bit of fear out in the back of your mind to the beautiful scenery around the track. This track goes into my category of favorite places to race for a number of reasons. First off, it's one of the few actual permanent road courses we race on in the Star Mazda Championship! Secondly, we've had a lot of luck here in the past. Third, I just love the people in the south and especially Georgia. I come from a small town out in the country surrounded by farms, so when I'm down here, it just feels just like home.
I started the week out with a book singing at the Mall of Georgia Barnes & Noble on behalf of my sponsor K12 and as part of B&N's commitment to Educator Appreciation Week (LEFT, -Ed.). We saw well over 100 kids at the signing and it was awesome to be talking about my book again and just out seeing the people of Georgia! I really appreciate everyone that came out and for everyone who helped organized the event.
As far as racing here, the last time I ran at Road Atlanta was around this time two years ago, running at the same event, in a smaller car. In 2010, my rookie year in USF2000, Road Atlanta was a big memory weekend for me. At that time, I recorded my best finish with a second-place finish. I also won my first team championship for Andretti Autosport with a lot of help from my teammate Sage Karam.
Atlanta being a very fast track with one of the longest straightaways we race on, it calls for the car to have very little downforce. On top of that, it has a lot of high-speed, sweeping corners. It definitely requires the driver to be very smooth and able to use the braking as best as possible. My driving style! I love these flowing tracks compared to a track like Baltimore. It makes for finding more time in the details, and for better racing.
The schedule being a little different than all of our other races this year, we'll have only one race, and it's on Friday? I keep wanting to say this weekend but it really doesn't fit! But on Friday, I'll be piloting the K12 car through our longest and last race of the year. It'll be 50 minutes from green flag to checkered flag. I'm going to be thanking my trainer a lot by the end of it.
Typing this up, I'm already getting sweating hands and a nervous heart, It's been a long year with a lot of learning along with it, but this is one of those races I've always kept an eye on all year. It'll take a few laps to get use to the Star Mazda again after having a couple of days in the Indy Lights car at the Indy road course, where we we're able to set the track record, but I'm hoping that momentum carries into this week, and we'll have a great final run.
Thank you to K12, the Young Marines youth organization, Zakosi Data Backup, ADS, OMP, Arai, Relay XD and Oakley AND of course to Andretti Autosport for making this year possible. It was a lot of hard work, but I've had a lot of fun along the way! After this, winter testing for 2013! Hope to see you this “weekend” at Road Atlanta!
Star Mazda Championship driver Zach Veach drives the Andretti Autosport No. 77 K12/Mazda. For more on Zach, go to www.zachveach.com.